Australia:True Bank Reform?

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has argued for change. The Prime Minister has promised change. The ‘big four’ banks, it has been reported, have indicated (apart from their rates pricing) that they are likely to reduce or remove mortgage exit fees before any regulation is imposed by the government.

(See links below for discussion of this issue):

ABC online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/08/3059734.htm

The Drum (ABC): http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/05/3058578.htm?site=thedrum

The Age newspaper: http://www.theage.com.au/business/new-bank-guidelines-to-define-term-gouging-20101107-17iy9.html

The Australian newspaper: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/banks-should-offer-competitive-deals-says-opposition/story-fn59niix-1225949358548

Is it about fairness, or is it a populist ‘bank-bashing’ exercise? A strong banking sector is arguably essential to a healthy and functioning economy. In fact, it is often lauded as a reason why the Australian economy avoided a technical recession during the global financial crisis (GFC). However, carefully designed and implemented regulation is also an essential ingredient.

A balance needs to be struck between smart regulation to promote competition while allowing the major banks to remain strong.

The government is under pressure from all sides on this issue and, while the sentiment for competition and change is strong within the community, with the power weilded by the banking lobby it is hard to see how they will be substantially tamed to the point of even denting the $5b profit reporting.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Australia

Secretary of State Hillary ClintonThere are no big surprises so far as Hillary Clinton continues her visit to Australia. Secretary Clinton fielded questions in a “town hall-style” forum at Melbourne University from audience members selected by the US state department.

See link below from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) website:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/07/3059289.htm

G.B.C xo

Welcome Back!

A Year of Elections

After a year or so out of the ‘blogosphere’ the Politics Club Blog is back!

Thank you for all of your correspondence while we have not been posting new stories.  It is certainly an understatement to say that a lot has happened since our last post!

In Australia this year there is a plethora of electoral madness.  Yesterday voters in both Tasmania and South Australia went to the polls with results at this stage too close to call.  For excellent coverage of these polls check out the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) ‘Elections’ website:

http://www.abc.net.au/elections/home/sa-tas.htm

Further to this, there is a Federal election in Australia due at some stage this year as well as a Victorian State election this November.  The UK has a General Election due also, while elections have just occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Be sure to keep your eye on the Politics Club blog for updates on what makes political news around the world and, as always, please feel free to correspond by positing comments or emailing us!

May the polls be in your favour,

Grievous Bodily Charm

(Ballot Box image courtesy of: http://australianpolitics.com/elections/ )

In Brief: Labor Party in ACT to Hold Annual Conference

The Labor Party in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is holding its Annual Conference today just months before elections for the Legislative Assembly, reports the Austrlian Broadcasting Corporation. 

Criticism of various government policies, initiatives and forced changes suggests that the election will be a very close affair.  Amongst such contentious issues include key policy areas of health and education such as the cuts to teaching positions and changes to conditions that are arguably crippling the Territory’s teaching force and inflicting significant damage to morale within the profession. 

The ruling Labor Party had largely responded well to their mandate to govern; however, a growing reluctance to adequately and openly consult with the public on some matters has shown cracks.

In Brief: ABC Reports Minister’s Praise for Return of Indigenous Remains

The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, USA, has been praised by Australia’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin after it agreed to return the remains of 33 Indigenous Australians that were removed in the 1940’s. 

“These are remains from 33 Indigenous Australians that were taken to the United States and the traditional owners who are going to collect them believe the remains may include their grandmother, so it is a very significant collection,” she said.  (Source: ABC Online http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/07/26/2315450.htm )

Mr Mithen

NEWS FLASH: Australian Combat Troops to Leave Iraq

Aussie Combat Troops in IraqThe Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has reported that, in accordance with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s election promise, Australian combat troops are to be withdrawn from Iraq by “mid-2008”.  Around 1000 personnel will remain on non-combat duties.

Here is a link to the ABC’s article online: (Copy and paste link into your browser)

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/01/2261770.htm

This links to a story from earlier this year regarding the pull-out:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/01/29/2148370.htm

Mr. Mithen

(Photo courtesy of ABC Website http://www.abc.net.au)

News Flash: Tory Victory in By-election

PM Gordon Brown

The previously ‘safe’ New Labour seat of Crewe and Nantwich is now in the hands of the Conservatives in another sign from the electorate that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is in some deep, deep trouble.  He is, in effect, up that political creek without a mandate. 

The new MP is Edward Timpson who secured a swing of 17.6% to wrest the seat from Labour by a formidable margin of 7,860 votes (Source: bbc.co.uk/news). 

Tory candidate Edward Timpson won 7,860 more votes than his Labour rival – a 17.6% swing from the 2005 General Election. 

This clearly does not bode well for the Brown government; indeed Conservative Leader David Cameron hailed the result as the end of New Labour.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a General Election will be an uphill battle for a government that will be close to 13 years in office. 

One need only compare this to the staleness apparent at the end of the Howard government in Australia after four terms in office totalling 11 years.  The parallels are evident in many ways.  Prior to Howard’s 2007 election defeat Australians had become reinvigorated by an Opposition Party that only a few short years ago was ‘un-electable’.  John Howard blew what was (at one point described as) a ‘teflon’ Premiership with negative campaining, targeted financial hand-outs designed to soften up ‘middle-Australia (who gladly took the money with one hand, while at the same time crying foul about fiscal mismanagement) and back bench pressure for a series of ill-advised legislative moves such as Work Choices. 

Sound at all familiar?  Brown has blown the initial good-will he had obtained after taking over from Tony Blair with the failure to call a General Election soon after his ascension to the top job, a series of poor policy decisions and ‘backflips’ (10p Tax Threshold) and subsequent rumblings from his back bench. 

First the London Mayoral and Local Elections on 1 May and now a ‘crushing’ by-election defeat.  Keep an eye on how Brown manouvers in an attempt to regain support for his ailing government.  It is certainly not game over for Brown, provided he can plug the policy gaps and re-assert his authority with the back bench and seize the public agenda for all the right reasons. 

Thanks to the ABC for the picture (www.abc.net.au)

Mr Mithen